How ad­vi­sors feel about their firms’ com­mu­ni­ca­tions ef­forts has an im­pact be­yond mea­sure


How ad­vi­sors feel about how their firm works to keep them in the loop about what mat­ters — as well as be­ing re­cep­tive to feed­back — has a no­tice­able im­pact on how ad­vi­sors feel about their firms over­all.

al­though fi­nan­cial­ad­vi­sors have never been shy to share their thoughts about their firms when sur­veyed for In­vest­ment Ex­ec­u­tive’s ( IE) an­nual Re­port Card se­ries, they still place much value on do­ing the same through di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tion with their com­pany’s ex­ec­u­tives.

For some ad­vi­sors, hav­ing a healthy, twoway con­ver­sa­tion with man­age­ment — in which ex­ec­u­tives keep ad­vi­sors in­formed while also lis­ten­ing in­tently for ad­vi­sors’ sug­ges­tions about the way the busi­ness is run — of­ten is cited as one of the most pos­i­tive as­pects of work­ing at their firms.

As an ad­vi­sor in On­tario with Toron­to­based RBC Do­min­ion Se­cu­ri­ties Inc. says: “[The bro­ker­age is] a very en­tre­pre­neur­ial cul­ture, one that is sup­ported — not dic­tated — by head of­fice. Se­nior man­age­ment lis­tens to what we ad­vi­sors have to say.”

Per­haps not sur­pris­ing, then, ad­vi­sors who echoed this sen­ti­ment typ­i­cally rated their firms highly in this year’s Re­port Card se­ries. More specif­i­cally, firms that re­ceived strong rat­ings in both the “firm’s ef­fec­tive­ness in keep­ing ad­vi­sors in­formed” and “firm’s re­cep­tive­ness to ad­vi­sor feed- back” cat­e­gories also ranked among the top 10 firms in the en­tire Re­port Card se­ries in terms of the IE rat­ing and over­all rat­ing by ad­vi­sors. (The IE rat­ing is the aver­age rat­ing among all cat­e­gories in which ad­vi­sors rated their firms — ex­clud­ing the over­all rat­ing by ad­vi­sors, which is a rat­ing ad­vi­sors give their firms as a whole. Both rat­ings are on a scale of zero [very low] to 10 [very high].)

Case in point: Mis­sis­sauga, Ont.-based IDC World­source In­surance Net­work Inc. (IDC WIN), a man­ag­ing gen­eral agency (MGA), re­ceived the high­est IE rat­ing and over­all rat­ing by ad­vi­sors in this year’s Re­port Card se­ries, as well as among the high­est rat­ings in both com­mu­ni­ca­tions-re­lated cat­e­gories. Re­gard­ing ad­vi­sor feed­back, IDC WIN ad­vi­sors rated their firm at 9.1 for the on­go­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween ad­vi­sors and man­age­ment through­out the year — es­pe­cially at an­nual con­fer­ences.

“There are open dis­cus­sions at our an­nual meet­ings,” says an IDC WIN ad­vi­sor in Al­berta. “And through­out the year, if I have any­thing, I could just men­tion it to the head [of the MGA].”

In ad­di­tion to be­ing able to share ideas with man­age­ment, ad­vi­sors like to be kept in the loop about what’s go­ing on at their firms and in the in­vest­ment in­dus­try.

For ex­am­ple, ad­vi­sors with Mis­sis­saugabased Ed­ward Jones ranked their firm’s ef­fec­tive­ness in keep­ing them in­formed at 9.1, which tied that firm with Toronto-based Cana­dian Im­pe­rial Bank of Com­merce for the sec­ond-high­est rat­ing in the cat­e­gory in this year’s Re­port Card se­ries.

“We have reg­u­lar [com­mu­ni­ca­tion] from man­age­ment; we know where the com­pany is go­ing,” says an Ed­ward Jones ad­vi­sor in On­tario. “We want to know what’s hap­pen­ing with the com­pany.”

Ed­ward Jones keeps its ad­vi­sor force in­formed through sev­eral chan­nels, in­clud­ing daily e-bul­letins, web por­tals and re­gional meet­ings.

“We have many branches across Canada, so com­mu­ni­ca­tion is crit­i­cally im­por­tant in both di­rec­tions: head of­fice to the branch teams, and branch teams back to the head of­fice,” says Kevin Birch, prin­ci­pal, branch and re­gional de­vel­op­ment, with Ed­ward Jones.

Al­though ad­vi­sors ap­pre­ci­ate be­ing kept up to date, that feel­ing can quickly turn sour if they feel over­whelmed with in­for­ma­tion or if that in­for­ma­tion is pre­sented in a way that can be dif­fi­cult to nav­i­gate. Such was the sen­ti­ment of ad­vi­sors with Lévis, Que.-based Des­jardins Fi­nan­cial Se­cu­rity In­de­pen­dent Net­work.

On one hand, Des­jardins ad­vi­sors ac­knowl­edged that their mu­tual fund dealer pro­vides in­for­ma­tion through sev­eral chan­nels. How­ever, the amount of in­for­ma­tion sent and the way in which it is pre­sented can be trou­ble­some for ad­vi­sors.

“Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key, and I think that some­times there’s just too much stuff. And [Des­jardins’] on­line ‘of­fice’ that they use [to pro­vide] in­for­ma­tion still is a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to [use to] find things,” says a Des­jardins ad­vi­sor in On­tario.

As a re­sult, Des­jardins ad­vi­sors, who gave their firm among the low­est rat­ings, over­all, in the Re­port Card se­ries also rated their firm low in keep­ing ad­vi­sors in­formed.

Des­jardins ex­ec­u­tives are aware of the chal­lenges and are in the midst of stream­lin­ing some of the firm’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion meth­ods, says Nancy Schafer, vice pres­i­dent, bro­ker­age dis­tri­bu­tion and wealth ser­vices, with Des­jardins: “We know that the com­mu­ni­ca­tion that we’ve had has not been ef­fec­tive.”

Thus, Des­jardins has be­gun to com­bine three news­let­ters cov­er­ing com­pli­ance, news about the dealer, and sales and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment into one bul­letin en­ti­tled DFSIN Con­nect as part of those ef­forts to im­prove the firm’s in­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

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